Have you picked up a satisfying part time gig during lockdown? Or maybe you’ve been using your skills to earn a side income for years and finally feel ready to take it full time.
From graphic design to acting as an extra or carrying out consultancy work, the opportunities for setting up work as a freelancer are limited only by your imagination. However taking it to the next level – the stage that you can quit your job and get by comfortably as a freelancer – also requires some solid planning and preparation.
Build up your client list until you have a full-time income
It’s always best to have the work lined up before you leave your day job. If you’ve already managed to build your business to the point where you have a second full-time income (or thereabouts), then you’ve proven to yourself that you’re able to sustain yourself from the side hustle alone. It may mean that you’re working flat out for a few months running two jobs in parallel, but if this is your dream then it will be worth it in the long run.
There’s an added benefit here: all that extra income can go straight into savings, to help subsidise the quieter months that will inevitably come around.
Start funnelling your freelance income into a second account
In fact, you might want to consider opening a second bank account or savings account specifically for stashing away your freelance cash. This will be a good way to get a grip on how much you’re actually bringing in and whether it is enough to cover your living costs.
It’s also good practice to get in, as managing your income in this way will help you come tax time.
Make sure you’re charging what you’re worth
A lot of freelancers charge less when they’re first getting started – not a problem, but it may mean that you’ve ended up with legacy clients, people who you’ve worked with for a long time but are now paying significantly less than your newer clients.
It’s a good idea to try and flatten your rate. It may be uncomfortable, but most clients are understanding if you explain that your costs have gone up and explain the reasons. Try not to make the jump too big in one go, and be graceful if they decide to move to a cheaper option.
Focus on recurring service and add-ons
Consider how you could tweak your existing services to make them more profitable. It’s not too difficult for somebody who’s writing blogs and articles to develop other marketing copy such as social media posts or email newsletters. An actor doing extras work could pull in a nice second income recording voiceovers. Think about additional products that you can offer for a small extra fee, and try to offer things that people will keep coming back for on a regular basis.
Develop your digital brand
You may well already have a website, or at the very least some social media presence, but are you actively using your internet presence as a lead gen tool? As you start to go deeper into self-employment, you need to start thinking like a business. Consider looking at ways to make your website rank higher in the search engines, running adds on Google or relevant social media channels, and making sure that every page of your website makes it easy for people to understand what you’re selling and how they can get in touch.